June 10—August 28, 2005
Directed by Frédérique Michel
Production Design by Charles A. Duncombe
Cast: Juni Buchér, Justin Davanzo, David E. Frank, Sophia Marzocchi, Stephen Pocock, Christie D’Amore
Los Angeles Times
Alternate visions of ‘Don Quixote’
June 17, 2005
by David C. Nichols
At City Garage, Kathy Acker’s scabrous post-feminist crib from Cervantes gets a searing realization.
“Being dead, Don Quixote could no longer speak. Being born into and part of a male world, she had no speech of her own. All she could do was read male texts, which weren’t hers.”
That epigraph cements the point of “Don Quixote: Which Was a Dream” at City Garage. It cannot convey the emblematic perversity with which director-adaptor Frederique Michel, production designer Charles A. Duncombe and an amazing cast realize the 1986 novel by Kathy Acker.
The late Acker’s scabrous post-feminist crib from Cervantes is a profanity-drenched phylum unto itself. Multiple influences, William S. Burroughs being only the most obvious, orbit about “Don Quxote’s” title abortion-seeker (Sophia Marzocchi). Acker pulls this bipolar surrogate into a picaresque, politically questioning head trip, analogous to the paintings of Sherrie Levine.
Under Michel’s assured direction, the players show seamless commitment. Marzocchi is a lithe, enigmatic discovery with the arcane beauty of a Roman deity. The riveting Justin Davanzo casually enters his Hobbesian debate with David E. Frank’s tickling Nixon wearing only periwig and boots. Stephen Pocock becomes an imposing Angel of Death by simply standing before the wings adorning one of the set’s trees. Juni Buchér and Christie D’Amore inhabit their pansexual archetypes with gusto, and Maureen Byrnes deftly passes off the polymorphous narrative viewpoint.
Duncombe’s evocative décor suggests Levine having at Joseph Cornell’s id, while Josephine Poinsot’s costumes trace Jean Paul Gaultier details onto Jean Cocteau doodles. True, Michel’s adaptation is faithful to a fault. Acker’s cascading polemic and graphic poetry risks static repetition in the flesh. Yet, though “Don Quixote” needs either further distillation or an intermission, audiences up for provocative theater of ideas will find its adults-only dreamscape hypnotic.
June 17-23, 2005
by Steven Leigh Morris
Director Frederique Michel’s adaptation of Kathy Acker’s novel is largely faithful to the spirit of the late post-punk novelist’s writing — a sexually obsessed, fetishistic stroll, barefoot, along a road strewn with shattered glass. Because Michel’s cast is so fresh-scrubbed attractive, Acker’s grunge aesthetic gets a facelift. What Acker borrowed from the tones of Miles Davis and the images of William Burroughs, Michel distills into something more like an S&M tango, comparatively formal, snappy and manicured — all dressed up and then, literally, stripped bare.
The play is a meaning-of-life examination of female identity, literature, sexuality and the connivances of oppression (Thomas Hobbes [Justin Davanzo] and Richard Nixon [David E. Frank] both put in cameos) through the dream-journey of a female Don Quixote (Sophia Marzocchi, a strong presence who really needs more range) during her abortion. She partners with a self-flagellating saint (Davanzo), who turns into a dog, and she meets the Angel of Death (Stephen Pocock), who hangs around for the play’s final quarter. The characters spout Acker’s oblique riffs with a higher regard for sound and inference than for structure or reason.
Michel’s physically crisp staging matches Charles Duncombe’s production design that includes projected motifs from Raphael to Paul Klee, and a highly symbolic set. The production, like Acker’s novel, is searching, groping for an alternative language in a world defined by abuse and brutality.